An Old Haunt.

The rippling water, with its drowsy tone1
The tall elms, tow’ring in their stately pride,—2
And—sorrow’s type—the willow sad and lone,3
Kissing in graceful woe the murmuring tide ;—4
The grey church-tower,—and dimly seen beyond,5
The faint hills gilded by the parting sun,—6
All were the same, and seem’d with greeting fond7
To welcome me as they of old had done.8
And for a while I stood as in a trance,9
On that loved spot, forgetting toil and pain ;—10
Buoyant my limbs, and keen and bright my glance,11
For that brief space I was a boy again !12
Again with giddy mates I careless play’d,13
Or plied the quiv’ring oar, on conquest bent ;—14
Again, beneath the tall elms’ silent shade,15
I woo’d the fair, and won the sweet consent.16
But brief, alas ! the spell,—for suddenly17
Peal’d from the tower the old familiar chimes,18
And with their clear, heart-thrilling melody,19
Awaked the spectral forms of darker times.20
And I remember’d all that years had wrought21
How bow’d my care-worn frame, how dimm’d
my eye,
How poor the gauds by Youth so keenly sought,23
How quench’d and dull Youth’s aspirations high !24
And in half mournful, half upbraiding host,25
Duties neglected—high resolves unkept26
And many a heart by death or falsehood lost,27
In lightning current o’er my bosom swept.28
Then bow’d the stubborn knees, as backward
The self-accusing thoughts in dread array,30
And slowly, from their long-congealèd bed,31
Forced the remorseful tears their silent way.32
Bitter, yet healing drops ! in mercy sent,33
Like soft dews falling on a thirsty plain,—34
And ’ere those chimes their last faint notes had
Strengthen’d and calm’d, I stood erect again.36
Strengthen’d, the tasks allotted to fulfil ;—37
Calm’d, the thick-coming sorrows to endure ;38
Fearful of nought but of my own frail will,—39
In His Almighty strength and aid secure.40
For a sweet voice had whisper’d hope to me,—41
Had through my darkness shed a kindly ray ;—42
It said : “ The past is fix’d immutably,43
Yet is there comfort in the coming day !”44